Yollege: A promising college review site

Bambi Francisco Roizen · December 4, 2008 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/549

Venrock's Brian Ascher is our guest host, evaluating Yollege



We've seen a number of college-related sites listed in our Vator.tv directory of startups and private companies from College Blog Network, CollegeWikis, College Mogul to NuResume.

One company, Yollege, was particularly notable, given the founder's pitch. According to Brian Ascher, venture capitalist of Venrock, who was our guest host (yet again!), Yollege CEO and founder Mike Kim deserves an A-+ for his pitch. Ezra Roizen (Vator Box regular and digital media investment banker) liked the music selection.

Yollege is a college review site. It's a Yelp for colleges, whereby college students can write reviews about the best bars, best fraternities, or best classes, etc.

We were all very favorable about the company's prospects and the service. Here's some of the advice, commentary and observations given by Roizen and Ascher.

- The pitch was clear, concise, poised and excellent

- Execution and creating a trusted brand will be key

- Scale will be a challenge (as it is with many startups) and the company has to create a "Black Swan" event (Black Swan is a book about the impact of the highly improbable)

- Focus on a few colleges. Get things going in one ecosystem; create a great experience and roll out to other colleges from there. This is what Facebook and Yelp did

- Find campus organizations and sports' teams to be written about. Create a "contest-like" effort to put a bunch of reviews about your school so it appears favorable to the incoming students. It could really help in recruiting

- Scrape content, like Rush schedules, and prime the pump

- To get a VC, like Ascher, to fund your business, the key isn't being profitable. VCs want to see acceleration, momentum, and adoption. They'll want to see that this is the go-to source for college reviews

- Stay lean and prove out your concept before raising (a lot) money


Here's the Liquid Scenarios Minute: (Liquid Scenarios is the sponsor for Vator Box. The company provides analysis and reports about valuation and exit scenarios)

There's no funding hisory available for Yollege. But the company has a complete and growing management team and has closed an angel round. 

To get a feel for market and exit opportunities, Liquid Scenarios looked to see if any competitors had successfully closed venture funding in the space recently. Next, we looked at the market dynamics of their business model, which the founder describes as part ads and part sponsorship of user-reviewed content. The most successful trajectory of review-driven sites, with some emphasis on local sponsorships and advertising is Yelp. 

Yelp recently closed a $15 million round at a pre-money valuation of $200 million. We changed dates to apply to the round sizes and valuaitons of Yelp's first two rounds to Yollege. And, we built a financing and exit model, assuming a light Series A round of $1 million by early 2009. At a $2 million pre-money valuation and a Series B round of $5 million, priced at $7 to $10 million. If the company sells for something in the range of Yelps Series C pre-money valuation, then each of Yollege's investors could do better on a cash-on-cash basis than a selling at a valuation similar to Yelp, if it was sold for two times its Series D rumored pricing.

With the former CFO of Yelp on their team, Yollege's prospects for a good exit from this niche are probably superior to the many firms trying to pursue it.

That's the Liquid Scenarios Minute

(Programming Note: We are now focusing on one company per Vator Box segment. Past companies highlighted, in which Venrock's Ascher was our guest host were Glam Media, Buzznet and Lyricfind. Be sure to stay tune for our upcoming episodes with Google's Marissa Mayer, EBay's director of strategy, Erik Stuart, and Zynga founder and CEO Mark Pincus as our guest hosts. If you'd like to be one of the highlighted companies, send an email to newsroom@vator.tv)


Image Description

Bambi Francisco Roizen

Author of "Unequally Yoked"; Co-founder Vator and Invent Health; Former Columnist/correspondent Dow Jones MarketWatch; Business anchor CBS affiliate KPIX

All author posts

Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Vator Box" series

More episodes

Related Companies, Investors, and Entrepreneurs

Liquid Scenarios


Joined Vator on

Since founding bpCentral, our focus has been on increasing each user's competitive advantage each and every time they interact with one of our applications.  Naturally, this involves more than simply enabling complex calculations to be performed accurately.  In fact, during the first 12 months of developing our new technologies and applications, we put an inordinate amount of resources into discovering how to transform the relationships between idiosyncratic decision-makers and financial information.  Our premise was that if that human to data relationship could be elevated to a new standard, then the relationships of those professionals with the entities and individuals they interact with could be more efficient and therefore more valuable. 

In response, we developed CIMPA, the Carver Import Algorithm, a system that allows any electronic financial information, data or reports to be interpreted by a receiving system without the need for XML, XBRL, tagging approaches or extensive manual data entry.  As a result of this technology, the Company's systems for private equity and venture capital professionals are able to import data in a matter of seconds, instead of a matter of hours. 

Similarly, the Company noted that when users attempted to calculate the outcomes of complex liquidation preferences, anti-dilution provisions and other complex terms that are common to VC/PE transactions, any output was virtually impossible to verify without a costly audit of the formulas.  Since the formulas were generally based in excel, this meant that few if any partners or other key investment professionals could afford to expend the effort to verify how amounts were arrived at.  Upon further consideration, the Company realized that, to a certain extent, this was true of all financial reports.  For traditional financial statements, this point is evidenced in the fact that notes to financial statements typically occupy several times more pages than the actual financial reports do.  This realization inspired the Company to develop a system it calls OferX, which presents all financial information in a manner that allows any user to audit and see how amounts were calculated (in an easy to understand, quantifiable manner) without the need for extensive textual descriptions.

Together these unique tools form the foundation for the Company's offerings, which are backed by over 29 patent pending technologies.